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Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Latin Mass 101: Sermon to First-Time Attendees

Written by  Father Ladis J. Cizik
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The Cristeros: Traditional Catholics Worshipping God at the Traditional Catholic Latin Mass The Cristeros: Traditional Catholics Worshipping God at the Traditional Catholic Latin Mass

In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

Welcome to the Traditional Latin Rite Mass by which the Roman Catholic Church had worshipped Almighty God for centuries prior to Vatican Council II.

It is an ancient maxim of the Church that how we worship is how we believe. In Latin, that is called lex orandi, lex credendiThe law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays...” That is why, for centuries, the Church resisted changing one iota of the Sacred Liturgy for fear that it would change our Catholic beliefs. In the wake of Vatican II, radical changes to the Mass have taken place, which resulted in a New Order of Mass (the “Novus Ordo”). We will now review just a few of these changes, that will be noticeable to you, and see how they may have impacted our Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith; which was preserved intact for centuries by the Traditional Latin Mass.


The Mass that you are attending this evening is said entirely in the official language of the Church, Latin, as it had been said for centuries. This is to help ensure the purity and integrity of our Catholic beliefs and doctrine. When the language of the Mass was switched to the vernacular (in our country to English), that resulted in numerous mistranslations that had a negative impact on our Faith, such that Pope Benedict ordered a new English translation to more closely conform to the official Latin. In addition, we once were able to travel anywhere in the world and attend the Latin Mass in the same language as said in our local parish. Now, we have a “Tower of Babel” effect, where we can no longer understand the prayers of Catholics from other countries who speak different languages.

After Vatican II, the priest was turned around to face the people. At the Traditional Latin Mass, the priest and the congregation all face the same direction; we all are turned toward Almighty God, toward the “Mystical East” (ad orientem). The focus of the Traditional Latin Mass is on God, not on the community. The priest facing the community suggests a man-centered Mass, as opposed to God-centered; horizontal worship versus vertical worship.

The Traditional Latin Mass was said on a High Altar, which represented that the priest was going up to offer Sacrifice to God; an unbloody re-presentation of Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross on the mount of Calvary. In both the Old and New Testament, God demands sacrifice on an altar. After Vatican II, the altar has become a table, along with having cups and plates in place of chalices and ciboriums, which suggest that the somber Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has been transformed into a community “Happy Meal,” complete with “cheerful” music. None of Christ’s disciples were “rejoicing” at Calvary. In contrast, the Traditional Latin Mass gives us the feeling that we are actually present at Calvary beneath the Cross of Christ, standing beside our Sorrowful Mother, Mary Most Holy.

Tonight, those who receive Holy Communion will receive Our Lord kneeling and on the tongue, as we had done for centuries. Kneeling symbolizes that we are subservient to God; standing for Communion indicates that we are God’s equals. Receiving on the tongue represents our Catholic tradition that only the consecrated hands of the priest should touch the Sacred Host. In addition, the danger of particles of the Body of Christ falling off into the hand of the communicant is an outrageous unnecessary risk. Protection of the Sacred Species is why the Latin Mass also uses the paten under the chin during the distribution of Holy Communion. Failure to take precautions with the Body of Christ may lead to a lack of belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

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The Church has always taught that Jesus Christ is entirely present in the Sacred Host: His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. That is one reason why we do not have “Communion under both species” at a Traditional Latin Mass. To insist on “receiving from the cup,” as it is called today, suggests a denial of that Catholic Truth and an adherence to the Hussite Heresy, which insisted on the laity receiving the Blood of Christ separate from the Consecrated Host. “Communion under both kinds,” as it is sometimes called in the New Mass, can also lead to a Protestant-like “memorial meal” view of the Mass taking pride of place over the Sacrificial reality of the priest, acting in the person of Christ, re-presenting Christ’s one Sacrifice on Calvary to the faithful in our time and place.

To emphasize the Sacrificial reality of the Mass, the Sign of the Cross is made over fifty times (fifty-seven by one count) at the Traditional Latin Mass, not including each time a person receives Holy Communion. The Sign of the Cross is also present on the priest’s vestments, and on altar linens. The Cross of Christ at Calvary is ever-present to us at the Traditional Latin Mass, whereas the Novus Ordo Mass has less than five Signs of the Cross and often has the Risen Christ image in the most prominent place near the altar/table instead of the Crucifix.

To emphasize the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the Traditional Latin Mass priest will hold his thumbs and forefingers together after the Consecration of the Host, so as not to lose the smallest particle of the Body of Christ. For that reason, he will not shake hands after the Consecration, as is lamentably done at the Novus Ordo Mass. Numerous genuflections and the ringing of altar bells also emphasize the Catholic Truth that through the miracle of Transubstantiation, effected by a validly ordained priest acting in persona Christi, mere bread and wine are truly changed into the Body and Blood of Christ.

To maintain his focus on God, the priest also keeps his eyes downcast whenever facing the people during the Traditional Latin Mass. Note that the sermon is not considered to be an official part of the Mass; therefore the priest removes the maniple from his left arm (some may also remove their chasuble) just before the sermon and can freely look toward the congregation as he is speaking to them. After the sermon, the maniple goes back on his left arm and the Mass resumes.

In conclusion, this will explain just a few of the differences that you will notice between the Novus Ordo Mass and the Traditional Latin Mass. The changes made to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in the wake of Vatican Council II, may seem to be insignificant to some; although any reasonable person would admit that the changes were SUBSTANTIAL. However, no matter how significant or insignificant a change may appear to be, any single alteration can be expected to impact our beliefs. How we worship is how we believe; lex orandi, lex credendiThe law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays...”  

It should not be surprising therefore, if modern-day “Catholics,” of all levels in the Church, no longer seem to believe as we did prior to the changes in the Mass following Vatican Council II.   The problem for these Neo-Catholics is that the Apostolic Faith is unchanging, just as the Traditional Latin Mass was unchanged throughout the centuries.

Hold on to the One True Faith founded by Christ by holding on to the Traditional Latin Mass! There are many more elements of the Mass that have changed, that we can address in the future. Perhaps in another sermon, at another Traditional Latin Mass here in the future, we can address these changes. God bless you and your pastor for inviting the Traditional Latin Mass into your parish this evening!

In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.


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Last modified on Thursday, March 12, 2015